The Obama administration on Friday announced two new executive actions aimed at strengthening the federal background check system.
The two new moves on gun control are further proof that President Barack Obama will continue to go ahead with any and all possible moves on guns. It also signals that, for the foreseeable future in Congress, any new measures on gun control are dead.
The first measure will be proposed by the Department of Justice. The executive action would clarify who would be unable to possess a firearm for specific situations related to mental health, such as a commitment to a mental institution.
“For example, DOJ is proposing to clarify that the statutory term ‘committed to a mental institution’ includes involuntary inpatient as well as outpatient commitments,” the White House said in a statement.
The second executive action, proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services, would provide medical organisations some additional wiggle room to report “limited information necessary to help keep guns out of potentially dangerous hands” to the federal background check system.
In its statement, the White House included something for which it has unsuccessfully lobbied for the past year — a plea to Congress to pass a measure expanding background checks to more gun purchases. Congress hasn’t touched the issue since April, when the Senate could not pass a background-check measure. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives never took up related legislation.
It’s likely that the White House will continue to propose whatever executive actions he can to keep the issue in the news cycle. And the more the Obama administration continues to propose these executive actions, the more it signals that the White House realises that Congress will probably not act until at least after the 2014 election — and maybe not for the entirety of Obama’s remaining time in office.
Once-encouraged and fired-up advocates for gun reforms now realise that it’s likely a dead issue in Congress. Right before the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said that it might take another situation like Sandy Hook to push Congress in that direction.
“It seems like it will take another moment like Newtown for Congress to act,” Green said. “Which is the most tragic thing in the world.”
The NRA told Business Insider it wouldn’t comment on the Obama administration’s latest executive actions until it saw the full text of the proposals. It has been openly critical of Obama’s past executive actions, like two steps he took in August.
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